Germany and France come into their quarterfinal match-up with some of the highest expectations in the tournament. Germany were one of the favorites coming in, while France have looked like one of the top teams, winning their group and tallying two late goals to topple Nigeria.
One of these European powers will face the winner of the Brazil-Colombia match in what could be part of a tournament-wide battle for continental supremacy.
MULLER PEEVED: Coming off of Germany’s sometimes worrying performance against Algeria, the German press felt that Mannschaft have not been playing up to their talent. Thomas Muller, for one, does not agree with that sentiment. He went off on the press, proclaiming the result was all that matters. And he’s right.
Müller: "We made mistakes but we won the game. If the Italians won a game like that they'd be clever, for us it's the end of the world."— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) July 3, 2014
RIBERY REPLACEMENT: With France struggling to get past Vincent Enyeama, coach Didier Deschamps turned to the bench to unlock his attack. On came winger Antoine Griezmann for forward Olivier Giroud, completely changing the game. Griezmann played wide and pushed Karim Benzema into the middle, then adeptly took on the Nigerian defenders and would have had his team’s second goal had Joseph Yobo had not beaten him to it. Will Deschamps have enough confidence in Griezmann to start him?
OH CAPTAIN: When Shkodran Mustafi went down with an injury against Algeria and had to be subbed off in the 70th minute, Germany coach Joachim Low had to make a decision: Would he stay with his four center backs across the backline or go to a traditional fullback? We got the answer when Sami Khedira came on and Philipp Lahm was moved back to right back. From there, both players flourished, leading Germany to the win over the Desert Foxes. This has not led to a change of heart from the German boss, as all indications are that captain Lahm will again start in the midfield.
1982 REDUX: These two teams played one of the most famous games in World Cup history in 1982. Germany (then West Germany) and France went into extra time tied 1-1 with goals from Michel Platini and Pierre Littbarski. France then scored two goals in the first eight minutes of extra time. Game's over, right? Well, the Germans didn’t think so. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scored in the 102nd minute, and Klaus Fischer followed it up six minutes later. West Germany were victorious in penalties, but France did not have their heads down: Platini called it his “most beautiful game” years later. These two teams will hope to replicate that drama on Friday, although the French will hope for a different ending.
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- Toni Kroos, midfielder, Germany – The midfielder is one of the best in the world at connecting his defense to the attack, and Real Madrid have noticed. Marca has claimed that the team have acquired Kroos for 25 million Euros.
Marca claim Real Madrid have agreed to pay Bayern Munich €25m for Toni Kroos and will hand him a five-year deal. http://t.co/0mgj72BcjM— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) July 3, 2014
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU
- Paul Pogba, midfielder, France – Still only 21, he scored France’s opening goal against Nigeria and will look to put in an even more impressive display against Germany.